© Dr. Artur Knoth

Brazilian Philately: The Pan Am Zeppelin Flight of 1930

Bahia I : The Chicago Gang (updated – 9/09)

This contribution is an example of where I could use more information and only, at times, present a supposition of what may have happened. Another factor was that I disagreed with one of the expertizers on his opinion on one of these letters. (This isn't and won't be the first nor the last time I disagreed with an expertizer, when preparing my von Meister #s article, one of them, whose has signed covers for decades, was of the opinion that someone else was the origin of these #s.). The cover in question is displayed below, being offered at the time on Ebay (item #2365856) for a beginning bid of $600.00. The person offering the cover had gotten the impression that his was only one of two known covers (ignoring the mindstens = at least). Also that is was dropped over Bahia. But considering that the weather at Bahia was a tropical downpour and the Zeppelin sodden full with water, even a drop with the best oilskin bags available at the time, would have not left the covers in such impeccable condition as these.

Front of a typical “Chicago”-Bahia cover.

Reverse with typical Brazilian.P.O. Bahia cancel

Between what I've seen at auctions and my own collection, I can confirm at least 7 covers of this type. Besides the manner in which they are addressed and the postal treatment (copies of both red box rubber stamps, and the redirection to Chicago). Also the back cancel is always a



B.P.O. back cancel (24th of May)

The Condor version (missing)

B.P.O. Bahia one, and not the usual Condor version if the drop had occurred. As an aside: also the quality of the envelopes are impressive, in most cases but not all, the return address on the back is embossed. An impression of some well to do collectors. In the case above, this could be the same Richard Canman, that was an avid collector of China and the auction catalogs of the sale of his collection you can google/1/.

Two covers, of which I only have dreadful BW-copies can't be reproduced here, both last seen at auctions in 2002 and 2003. This have as addressee:

Harry J. Eisendrath Jr. - no hint of address : perhaps the same Eisendrath that wrote a book for AAMS on “Crash Covers”/1/.

A. L. Arnold, 308 Federal Bldg : no further info here. In this case though, there is an interesting aspect, and the reason why I know the Arnold address. I have a further cover of his, a 59DD sent via von Meister.

Another cover but not sent under the same circumstances as the Bahia cover, this went the normal von Meister way.

The remaining two covers (and more) are out my collection. And with these, the picture slowly begins to take on a contour. The first of these cover is addressed to Harry J. McCann at 7100 Stewart Ave. Below the front and reverse.

McCann front

Reverse with the B.P.O. Bahia cancel, no Condor one

The next cover and the additional ones addressed to this person in my collection, give a very interesting hint to what happened here.

Another cover, this to S. R. Drum

Reverse as usual too

This cover, addressed to S. R. Drum at 1947 Langley Ave., seems to be no different form the rest. Only when one examines the other 6 covers by Drum in my collection, does a new picture form. Below the covers are displayed, top row the fronts, below the reverse sides.

Pernambuco to Rio

Pernambuco to Europe

Europe via Spain

Rio to Spain

Rio to Europe

Rio to Spain

But on a few covers, on the reverse, one finds the interesting return address rubber stamped:

The Chicago Reliance Stamp Co.

These covers lend themselves to a possible conclusion that Drum and Chicago Reliance Stamp Co. are very closely related and that the company could well have been the impetus behind the Bahia covers, using possible connections in Brazil with dealers there. Proof, is at the moment, not possible.

But an Interesting note at this point, using a bulletin/2/ of a Chicago philatelic society, one notes that in the 30's and 40's of the last century, the “Nassau” street in Chicago was a two block stretch of Dearborn street (both the north and southern 100 block). With Reliance at 109 N. Dearborn str., this company must have been a member of this philatelic center in Chicago.

J. E. Mansfield is another example. Below a photo captured from an Ebay auction item placed by Ruby Stamps. Again all the same characteristics as the others.

And then we have B. F. Myers, who was, at the time, a superintendant at the Chicago USPO. But this cover is franked with a German Zeppelin and was sent on its way via von Meister (photo also an Ebay auction of Rumsey stamps). Yet as you can see, a further cover, sent the same way had the destination changed to Pernambuco, by whom and when is unknown. Also included a Myers cover for the Spain leg of the flight.

German Bahia by B. F. Myers

As more material appears, this section will be updated.


/1/ Confirmed by DR. Cheryl Ganz – private communication

/2/ The Zepp of the Austin Philatelic Club in Chicago